If the future of energy is electricity, who will own and control YOUR power?  Consumer-owned utilities (COUs) – where the ratepayers own the utility rather than corporate shareholders – have provided reliable electricity to U.S. customers since the 1890s. Today, about 2,900 “municipal” and  “cooperative” COUs serve 91 million Americans.  Some COUs are large, and others are small. Here in Maine, our 10 COUs serve 98 towns, charge their customers far less on average than Maine’s investor-owned utilities CMP and Versant, and provide far more reliable service.

Benefits of Consumer-Owned Utilities

COUs often outperform investor-owned utilities (IOUs) because of one essential difference: IOUs serve their shareholders while COUs serve their ratepayer/owners.

Click on each of the benefits listed below to learn more details about why COUs are a better choice for customers:

  • Mainers served by investor-owned CMP and Versant pay 49% more on average for residential service than customers of Maine’s consumer-owned utilities.
  • Investor-owned utilities are run to maximize profits for shareholders while consumer-owned utilities serve the interests of the ratepayers.
  • A nonprofit consumer-owned utility can borrow at much lower rates than the profits corporate shareholders require. This cuts the total, 20-year payback of new investments by half, letting COUs charge far lower rates to their customers.
Maine Investor-Owned Utilities vs Consumer-Owned Utilities Delivery Cost in Maine 2021
  • Maine ratepayers stand to save over $9 billion over 30 years by replacing CMP and Versant with a consumer-owned utility:
Annual and Cumulative Savings to Maine Ratepayers Graph
According to a comprehensive analysis by Dr. Richard Silkman in 2020, a consumer-owned electric utility would save Maine ratepayers over $9 billion over 30 years.

  • COUs are accountable to their owner/customers while IOUs serve the interests of corporate shareholders
  • Most of Maine’s grid is controlled by investors in Spanish conglomerate Iberdrola (including the governments of Qatar and Norway), in the case of CMP; and the City of Calgary, Canada, in the case of Versant. With Pine Tree Power the customers in Maine would control their own grid.
  • IOUs typically view customer service as an easy place to cut corners and reduce expenses, as Mainers experienced with CMP’s epic and ongoing billing fiasco
  • CMP’s has been rated the worst utility in the U.S. for customer satisfaction 4 years running by JD Power; Versant isn’t much better, ranking nearly as low.
JD Power Electric Utility Customer Service Ratings 2021
  • As of 2018, there were just six U.S. communities whose electricity was 100% renewable (Greensburg, Kansas; Georgetown, Texas; Kodiak Island, Alaska; Rock Port, Missouri; Aspen, Colorado; and Burlington, Vermont). What do they have in common? All six have consumer-owned utilities.
  • Among large US utilities too, COUs that are leading the way to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. Consumer-owned Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is on track to eliminate all carbon emissions by 2030, while consumer-owned Los Angeles Water and Power District (LAWPD) plans to get there by 2035.
  • CMP has actively hampered renewable energy expansion efforts in Maine, even killing a popular roof-top solar bill in 2017
  • Modernizing and enhancing our grid as we shift transportation and heating energy from carbon fuels to electricity requires heavy investment–a nonprofit COU has access to low-cost capital that IOUs don’t; and IOUs choose what to invest in based on projected returns, not the public interest.
  • The Our Power all-volunteer coalition includes many union members and strongly supports unions and workers. Our focus is a fair and fast shift to affordable clean energy for all. That is why Our Power’s referendum to replace CMP and Versant with an independent, not-for-profit Pine Tree Power Company guarantees more and better jobs for utility workers than the status quo.

More Details on Consumer-owned utilities:

Consumer-owned utilities in Maine

Maine has a history of locally-owned electric, water and telephone utilities. Currently part or all of 98 of Maine’s 488 communities are served by consumer-owned electric utilities, or COUs: